HIV and AIDS Today: Are You Positive You’re Negative?

Sunday, December 1, 2013 marks the 13th annual World AIDS Day, a time for all to unite in the fight against HIV. The World AIDS Day campaign spreads the message “Take the Test, Take Control,” and with this global event just days away, it seemed like the perfect time to tell Beforeplayers a little bit more about the world of HIV and AIDS today.

Recently, there have been a number of significant advances in the detection and treatment of HIV. That’s great news, yet despite all this exciting progress, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that only about 82 percent of the 1.1-million-plus people living with HIV in the United States are aware of their infection. That means 18 percent of Americans with HIV—that’s more than 200,000 people—don’t know they are infected. We know. It’s pretty startling stuff, but it’s also really important to know for the good of your health.

So what can you do about it? We’ve got just the thing: get the test. All of you.

Getting tested is the first step to diagnosing HIV and figuring out next steps. The CDC recommends that everyone 13–64 years old be tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. That way, if you discover that you are HIV-positive, you can get the counseling you can use and get on the fast track to treatment. Currently, there is care and medications available that can help you live a long, healthy life, plus some of them even lower the chances of passing HIV on to others.

Getting tested shows that you care about yourself and your partner because it’s the only way to know for sure where you stand. It’s your chance to get proactive about your sexual (and overall) health, and while we know that facing an HIV test may not be easy, it’s definitely the right thing to do. If it helps ease your anxiety at all, there are several testing options where you can get a result quickly – from 20 minutes to same day – and have knowledgeable counselors to help guide you on next steps.. . Test results are always confidential, so there’s no need to worry about that either.

Now, let’s say you’ve been tested and you want to encourage others to do the same, but how? Just talk about it. Share your experience and why you did it. Be open. Be honest. Lead by example. And perhaps most importantly, help eliminate stigma. HIV can happen to anyone, and the fear of judgment is what prevents so many people from being tested. By starting the conversation and bringing up the “big white elephant,” you become part of a supportive, progressive community that’s proud to take a stand against discrimination.

For all these reasons and more, take the step to get the test this World AIDS Day. More than 16,000 Americans with AIDS die each year—a number that is unacceptably high. So take a friend, a lover or a family member to one of the many HIV testing sites located all across the nation. Together, we can get talking, get tested and help each other stay safe.

For more information, contact Denise at the Red Ribbon Project.

970-827-5900 or denise@redribbonproject.org

Denise Kipp
Executive Director of the Red Ribbon Project